The advent of cloud computing could have a greater impact on public-sector IT than the PC revolution did in the 1980s, according to the Society of Information Technology Management.
The association for public-sector IT professionals said the adoption of the technology is unstoppable, in much the same way as the adoption of PCs was decades ago, once organisations realised the business benefits.
While the PC may have given managers their first taste of business computing through spreadsheets and word processors, cloud computing's combination of broad information sources with easy-to-use processing power — without the need for significant up-front costs or technical skills — could prove more revolutionary, Socitm said.
The flexibility and potential cost savings of using applications accessed via the web will fuel adoption in the public sector, according to the organisation.
Socitm Insight principal associate Chris Head told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com that the "fortress" approach of keeping all IT within the confines of the corporate network can't be maintained.
With the average user already starting to use web-based applications independently of the corporate IT department, Head said there will be growing pressure on management to look at the technologies.
"Unless the IT managers get on board pretty quickly and start to embrace the technology, they're going to be isolated," he said.
"We don't want to stumble into another schism between IT and the business. We actually want to use this opportunity to integrate the approach together and jointly work out how you can get something really worthwhile out of it, rather than it being another source of alienation," he added.
"I would imagine you're going to see the seeds of [adoption] within about 18 months, purely because of the financial situation that public-sector organisations are going to be encountering," Head said.
According to Head, the security and business-continuity risks of having data outside the organisation will merely slow adoption, rather than prevent it altogether, as they will be overcome fairly quickly.
Socitm said public-sector organisations should, therefore, prepare a strategy for adopting cloud-computing services by carrying out research and discussing the business benefits with users.